Tourism sector to see overhaul; gov’t signs MoU with GUMA Group

The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, has emphasised government’s dedication to ensuring that the country becomes the leading tourism destination in West Africa.

According to him, the ministry’s target is to achieve two million arrivals by 2026; pledging a complete overhaul of the country’s tourism sector and creating 150,000 jobs every year in the process.

“Two million arrivals can give a minimum of US$6billion,” added Dr. Awal, who spoke during the signing of a memorandum of outstanding with GUMA Group in Accra. This MoU paves the way for many tourist attractions in the country to get a facelift under government’s broader positioning of the sector as a leading contributor to economic development.

He also indicated that the ministry’s aim is not only to add value but also shine a light on the country’s numerous attraction sites. “So, the support from GUMA Group is to help add value to all these attractions we have that are in their natural state.”

He thanked GUMA Group for reposing trust and confidence in the country and assured them of their investments’ safety, adding that this country is the most peaceful in West Africa and one of the most peaceful in the world – with attractive investment opportunities.

“We are going to work hand in hand with GUMA Group, Tourvest and others to make sure that, within the next few years, Ghana becomes the leading tourist destination worldwide,” he added.

Commenting on the MoU, Dr. Awal said the ministry seeks to among others drive and grow private sector investments into the tourism, arts and hospitality industry, with the aim of improving tourism’s performance in terms of job creation and revenue.

Under the MoU, Ghana Tourism Development Company (GTDC) – the ministry’s investment and infrastructural development wing – together with GUMA Group has produced a roadmap for the partnership and investments in selected tourism enterprises.

The GTDC and GUMA have agreed on specific areas of partnership and collaboration. They are to embark on various projects to ensure effective and efficient development of the tourism sector in Ghana by designing, building and rehabilitating places of interest; cultural and historical places of interest; wildlife conservation and establishment of commercial wildlife parks; iconic heavy capital tourism projects and other associated infrastructure, as set out in its Tourism Development Plans.

“The parties are to cooperate with each other in respect of developing strategic tourism infrastructure in Ghana within 24 to 60 months,” part of the MoU read.

At Shai Hills Resource Reserve, the MoU states that the current tented camp will be upgraded into a luxury facility with rooms and a restaurant, and develop a cultural village like the Lesedi concept in South Africa.

Similarly, the Kakum National Park is to be developed into an eco-lodge to provide tourists with overnight accommodation at two identified sites (Mfuom and Antwikwao) – plus tree-top houses, mobile tented camps and picnic sites. In addition, GUMA will establish a restaurant offering meals to visitors featuring breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Mole National Park will also see a facelift, including accommodation and restaurant services. In addition, the MoU said GUMA will open and operate a second gate at Ducie Camp.

“The investor will undertake, together with other concessionaires and the Department of Forestry, to rehabilitate and operate the landing airfields for light aircraft adjacent to National Parks/Reserves; and ensure the improvement of artery roads connecting these tourism products and nodes.

“With destination retail in crafts, curios and souvenirs, the Investor intends to establish retail outlets at various tourist destination sites; the products to be sold in these outlets will be mostly sourced from local Ghanaian suppliers.

“Supply of human resource capital training including change management (management and technical) will be assured,” portions of the MoU added.

The minister encouraged media to keep shining a light on tourist attractions, and use their mandate as the fourth estate to debunk assertions that Africa is a lost continent.

“The image of Africa being a lost continent is not true. Africa has some of the best in terms of heritage, eco-tourism, rich art and culture. Let us portray the best of Africa and make our offerings the best in terms of tourism attraction,” he elaborated.